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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Primary care doctors, outpatient facilities cause medical errors

It is estimated that between 210,000 and 440,000 people are killed or injured due to preventable medical errors in Montana and across the United States each year. Many people assume that busy hospital emergency rooms are to blame for these statistics; however, medical personnel in primary care and outpatient facilities also share the blame.

A recent study by researchers at the Whole Health Organization found that 40% of people who suffered negative effects due to medical errors had them occur in a primary care or outpatient setting. The WHO also estimated that 80% of these medical errors were preventable. Previous studies have found that the majority of medical care that people around the world receive takes place in an outpatient setting.

GPS devices are wonderful but dangerous

You might be one of many Montana drivers who use a global positioning system to help you navigate unfamiliar roadways. While such devices are becoming more commonplace, many people still find them almost magical. You plug in some information and a voice tells you how to get there. The only problem is GPS devices are not always reliable and may place you at an increased risk for collision.

There's a risk of both system error and human error when you use a GPS while driving. Sometimes, outdated information can cause navigation instructions to lead drivers on a wild goose chase. If you're looking for a road name on a street sign that hasn't existed for 10 years or more, you might wind up being late to arrive to your destination. GPS devices can cause driving distractions as well, which can cause collisions that result in injury.

Some memory loss traced to TBIs rather than Alzheimer's

Montana residents who know someone who suffers from memory loss should know that not all such cases stem from Alzheimer's disease. Some can be the result of a traumatic brain injury from the past. A new UCLA study has found that MRI scans can be critical in distinguishing between the two causes and in thus preventing Alzheimer's misdiagnoses.

The study analyzed 40 UCLA patients who suffered a TBI before and who were experiencing memory loss. The average age of the group was just below 68. Incidentally, adults aged 65 and older, along with children aged 4 and younger, are at the highest risk for falling: a major cause of TBIs. Adults aged 75 and older see the highest rate of TBIs, according to the CDC.

Fewer crash fatalities, but pedestrians face higher risk

For many drivers in Montana, the reported decline in roadway deaths in 2018 is relieving news pointing to greater safety on the roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 35,560 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions last year, a 2.4% decline over 2017 figures, which themselves reflected a decrease over the prior year. According to the NHTSA, these positive statistics are continuing with the first half of 2019 showing a 3.4% decline in highway fatalities. At the same time, however, pedestrians and cyclists may have additional cause for concern.

The NHTSA also reported that 6,283 pedestrians were killed in car crashes in 2018, an increase of 3.4% over 2017 figures. It also represents the largest single number of pedestrians killed since 1990. According to researchers at "Consumer Reports," pedestrian deaths dropped until 2009 but have risen 53% since that time. There were also 6.3% more cyclists who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2018 for a total of 857. The agency reported that it was looking into reasons for these pedestrian and cyclist deaths, including the prevalence of SUVs. It may be more difficult for motorists to see lone walkers in a taller vehicle.

Montana among worst states for teen drunk driving

Researchers at CheapCarInsuranceQuotes.com have come out with a list of the 15 worst states when it comes to teen drinking and driving. The study shows that there may be a connection between the number of high school students who drink and drive and the rate of drunk driving fatalities. Montana residents will want to know more because this state was third on the list.

First of all, drunk driving fatalities make up one third of all driving fatalities. Nationwide, an average of 3.4 per 100,000 people die in drunk driving crashes. Drunk driving is also behind thousands of injury cases. The CDC found that about 5.5% of all teens drive after drinking alcohol in any amount in spite of the federal law placing the minimum drinking age at 21.

What to be aware of when driving this fall

Drivers in Montana and throughout the United States need to be aware of the potential dangers that they face while driving during the fall season. For instance, roads can become slick when they are covered by rain or leaves that are falling off trees. In addition to making roads slippery, falling leaves can obscure traffic lines and other important markings. If rain and leaves are on the road at the same time, it can feel as if a person is driving on ice.

It is also important to be aware of those who spend as much time paying attention to the leaves as they do the road ahead of them. As the colors change, individuals may drive slowly to observe them or stop to take a picture without considering others around them. Driving during the early morning or early evening hours can be tougher in the fall because school is back in session.

Study reveals how effective automatic car safety systems can be

The vast majority of car accidents in Montana and around the country involve some kind of human error. Car manufacturers have introduced a range of features in recent years that are designed to monitor road conditions and step in when drivers become distracted or make mistakes, and a recent study reveals that they can be extremely effective. Researchers from the University of Michigan studied accident reports from 10 states to gauge the effectiveness of safety features like automatic braking systems, blind spot monitors and lane departure warnings, and they discovered that they can cut the number of some kinds of accidents almost in half.

The researchers were able to determine which vehicles were equipped with advanced driver assistance systems using information provided by General Motors. They found that vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems were involved in 46% fewer rear-end collisions; lane departure warnings cut side impacts by 20%, and blind spot alerts combined with departure warnings reduced lane-change accidents by more than a quarter.

Drowsy driving, an underreported trend

Up to 9.5% of all auto accidents are due to drowsy driving according to a 2018 AAA study. This is a startling departure from government reports in the past, which estimated that between 1% and 2% of crashes are caused by drowsiness. The figure 9.5% is high when Montana residents consider that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving is to blame for 5% of all crashes.

Drowsy driving is an underreported phenomenon because police do not have any unerring way to detect it. In the absence of witnesses or special camera footage, drivers involved in a crash can easily lie about how tired they were. More than half of all drowsy driving crashes occur in the dark.

Why individuals should avoid drowsy driving

Those who choose to drive on Montana roads should make sure that they are not sleep deprived or under the influence of sleep medication. According to a Consumer Reports survey, roughly 20% of respondents who took prescription sleep aids did so less than seven hours before driving a vehicle. The directions say that an individual should wait at least seven hours before driving to avoid doing so while groggy.

Individuals who drive while sleep deprived could experience the same effects as those who drive while under the influence of alcohol. Driving after being awake for 24 consecutive hours is the same as operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .10%, which is above the legal limit of .08%. A study conducted by AAA in 2018 found that 9.5% of crashes are caused by drowsy drivers.

Car accident may lead to a variety of injuries

You drive to work just as you do on any other typical Monday morning. However, your morning ends very differently when a distracted motorist on the highway crashes into the side of your car.

Following the accident, you now have car damage and serious injuries. Fortunately, you have the right to seek compensation for the injuries you have suffered in such a situation. Here is a glimpse at the various kinds of injuries you could suffer in an accident, as well as how to seek damages for these injuries in Montana.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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